The document management industry continues to provide robust opportunities for dealers to grow their businesses. However, like many other industries, evolving is necessary to stay ahead of the pack.
For a copier dealer to survive in today’s environment, it needs to diversify. It’s not just about maintaining machines in field (MIF); solely relying on MIF without focusing on other solutions will connect a dealer’s future revenue to a declining number of pages over time.
One solution could be to acquire additional territories. However, this can be quite costly and out of reach for independent dealers. A more cost-effective solution is to grow their businesses with existing customers. But in a field where products are in 36- or 48-month leases, there’s often a long wait time before a rep calls for a new potential sale. As an alternative, dealers need to find an entry point into securing new customers by offering new products and solutions.
The merits of diversifying into nontraditional products outside the MFP space are varied. Doing so allows dealers to demonstrate to customers that they are nimble, resourceful and always thinking about what’s next. It also shows that they can offer additional resources to customers that they may not have thought about before.
For example, customers in the healthcare space who use document management services may also need digital displays to assist patients, provide continuing education training and give presentations at board meetings.
Sharp Electronics Corporation has worked with hundreds of its resellers to try to expand their offerings, especially into digital signage—a large market with many different players. Sharp has seen great success in these cross-pollination efforts with its AQUOS BOARD interactive display systems. There are 11 products in this lineup with screen sizes ranging from 40 to 80 inches, making it ideal for a variety of business needs.
The AQUOS BOARD interactive display has helped enhance meeting space collaboration for organizations of all sizes. Small, medium and even large businesses all face similar communications challenges—today, there is less face-to-face interaction and more people working remotely. Millennials in particular are changing the way they communicate in their work spaces. It’s no longer about getting in front of a room to conduct meetings, but more about collaborating and exchanging ideas. They’re engaging with each other at the table, while pushing data and content to interactive displays in the room. Often, it’s not just one piece of data, but multiple sets of information they need to send to the screen. This makes it critical for businesses to think about how they can enhance their communications and disseminate information.
Another benefit for copier dealers entering the digital signage space is that the decision maker organizing the meeting-room environment is often also involved with placing MFPs. That means there is a real possibility of digital signage helping dealers get a foot in the door of customers where they can also grow their MFP business in the future.
While the size of the digital signage space is attractive, it can also make it difficult to navigate. In addition, taking a risk to invest in a tangential business solution can be daunting. But no one has to go at it alone; many dealers have entered into partnerships with other companies that can help them enter a new space and deliver a complete solution with minimal risk.
One great strategy is to enter the market by targeting a specific vertical industry—whether that’s education, manufacturing or any other space where they already have an entry point, and where there already may be existing customers. That way, they can look for a select group of partners who can help fill in any service gaps in order to introduce their business to new potential customers.
Dealers should look for resources that can lead them to find these partners and help them make introductions. For instance, the Sharp Strategic Technology Alliance Resource (STAR) lists hundreds of businesses that offer complementary products and services, including software developers, content providers and collaboration tools. As an example, a content group can create templates and then manage the updates for a dealer’s customer. The dealer would then adapt the client’s content to the template, and in some cases can develop original content, whether on its own or with a partner.
Digital signage is certainly not the only way in—there are many different and unique ways to expand a dealer’s customers’ possibilities. One distinctive solution Sharp implemented last October is providing clean drinking water for office environments. Through an alliance with Skywell LLC, a leading water technology company, Sharp began offering drinking water dispensers that create clean water from the air. The Skywell Atmospheric Water Generator (Skywell) is the first atmospheric water generation dispenser for offices, taking in the moisture and condensation from the ambient air and filtering and purifying it to create pure, clean drinking water.
This environmentally friendly concept has proven attractive to office environments that want to reduce their reliance on plastic bottles without the need for plumbing or water lines. Through Skywell, Sharp has brought another innovative business solution to its distribution network—in a way that many wouldn’t have thought possible.
In today’s economy, success comes to those who are able to adapt to an ever-changing landscape and think outside the box. For document management dealers hoping to grow their businesses or find additional revenue streams, putting themselves in the shoes of their current and potential customers will help them to identify how to best diversify their offerings and take advantage of the various sales opportunities that non-traditional products present.